Vitamin C for Dogs

Picture of a dog in the forest

We all know that vitamin C is an important nutrient, especially for humans. But did you know that people are actually among the few species that cannot synthesize vitamin C on their own?

Dogs’ bodies can make vitamin C to some extent, but since they also have to get some from food, some pets can be vitamin C deficient.

To find out more about this nutrient and how it impacts your dog’s health, read on!

Types of Vitamin C

Ascorbic acid is the type of vitamin C that most people are familiar with, and that’s because it can be found in a myriad of fruits and veggies. It’s also the type that’s more commonly found in supplements. However, high doses of it can cause some problems, especially digestive distress (diarrhea).

Sodium ascorbate is recommended for dogs that have Addison’s disease. It also stays longer inside a dog’s body, allowing them to recover from illness faster.

Calcium ascorbate is another form that can be used, and that doesn’t cause digestive upsets. It also has positive effects on dogs that have problems with their joints or those that have already developed arthritis.

Two other forms that are available are ascorbyl palmitate and ester C calcium ascorbate, the second of which is also safe for dogs that have a history of digestive health issues, including inflammatory bowel disease or gastritis.

Food Sources Your Dog Can Get Vitamin C From

Everyone knows that citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, but pet owners are also aware of the fact that dogs are not necessarily supposed to have them.

Depending on their previous health conditions, oranges or grapefruits might hurt a dog’s stomach or digestive tract, in general — not to mention that the peel is always hazardous because of the essential oils present in it (besides the possibility of it also containing weed killers or pesticides).

If you feed your dog a homemade diet, ask your vet what foods you should add to your dog’s recipes. Here are several examples of foods that dogs can have and that are quite rich in vitamin C:

Kale is also rich in this nutrient, but we advise against giving it to your dog as it predisposes them to kidney pathologies.

Vitamin C Deficiency

Even though this disorder is quite rare in this species, it can still happen on occasion. Generally, dogs whose livers are functioning at a normal capacity are not going to have problems producing the vitamin C that they need, especially if they are young and they are not being treated for any condition.

However, dogs with less capable livers might develop vitamin C deficiency, in which case they will show the following symptoms:

  • Joint pain
  • Bleeding or slow/difficult wound healing
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Bleeding gums

Why Do Dogs Get Vitamin C Supplementation?

Vitamin C is considered an anti-infectious nutrient. While it cannot combat bacterial agents on its own, so you can’t expect that giving your dog vitamin C supplements will cure an infection, some vets might use it as part of a treatment plan.

It is also said that vitamin C also makes it possible for some pets to recover their appetite if they have lost it. It’s common for this nutrient to be administered alongside other vitamins following operations and other periods where your dog might have been sick and is now recovering.

If your dog tends to suffer from anxiety or any type of chronic stress whatsoever, whether caused by something in particular or they’ve been like this all their life, your vet might also recommend these supplements.

In the end, dogs that do get some amounts of additional vitamin C in their diets usually recover better from illnesses, and their wounds might also heal better.

Vitamin C Supplements and the Right Dosage for Dogs

If your pet is going through a period where he or she is extremely stressed or if they have recently had an infection, especially one affecting their urinary tract, you might have to give your pet vitamin C supplements.

The correct dosage is 18mg of vitamin C per every pound of body weight. But because giving the entire amount to your pooch is not recommended, a powder form might be a better choice as you can mix small amounts of the entire daily quantity into Fido’s pet food, for example.

Can You Give Your Dog Too Much Vitamin C?

Even though overdosing on any type of vitamin, including vitamin C, can be quite rare in this species, it can happen. If your dog’s body already secretes enough, your vet has already administered an injection, and you also give your pooch a supplement, it could be too much.

Extra vitamin C doesn’t usually cause health issues in this species. However, it does tend to affect the urinary tract of some dogs, especially those that have a history of UTIs.

Also, too much vitamin C can cause calcium oxalate bladder stones, which can, unfortunately, irritate the mucous membrane inside the bladder and lead to severe infections. Male dogs have a higher risk of developing this health complication.

In other words, if your veterinarian has not advised you to give vitamin supplements to your dog, steer clear of any such products.

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